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A Story of Supply and Demand: PS5 vs Scalpers

There are a lot of gamers in the world. Unlike the smartphone industry, gaming consoles only release new models every few years. These launches are always met with a lot of eager buyers. New console, new technology, new possibilities for gaming. Everyone wants a piece of that. A select few aims to take advantage of it.

In gaming, “play has no limits”, or so they said.

Sony’s PlayStation 5 was announced on September 9, 2020 and was met with a lot of praise and hype. With a release window of a month before the Christmas holidays, and coming off of an extremely successful PS4 lineup that dominated the market for 8 years, the PS5 console was a guaranteed seller for the company.

But, scalpers had a different way of seeing it.

The first red flag came in the form of a pre-order system that was announced a day before. Needless to say, it was an absolute disaster. Websites crashing, servers not holding up, people being rushed due to the lack of an early heads up, and everyone’s favorite, scalpers taking up all of the available stock for themselves.

When all you do is sit on your computer waiting for stocks to be open again and use automated bots to purchase faster than a human can ever compete against, and sell that product with an extremely inflated price on the internet, you’re probably a loser.

It’s bad enough that Sony can barely keep up with the high demand for the product due to semiconductor shortages well into the one-year mark since its release. The public now has to deal with scalpers who take up all of whatever stock is available for their own profit. It makes the PS5’s slogan“Play Has No Limits” all the more ironic. Sorry Sony, but it has a LOT of limits.

Supply and demand

Scalpers have been causing headaches for the tech industry for quite a while already. They see how much the public wants to experience the product and so they profit off of people’s desperation.

It’s completely unethical.

Sony has revealed that they’re already selling the PS5 at a loss because of “strategic price points for hardware that were set lower than the manufacturing costs” the opposite can be said for weirdos on the internet, a.k.a. scalpers.

One can argue that scalpers exist because people are there to tolerate them. They wouldn’t be doing it if they weren’t making money in the first place. The best way to deal with it is to *gasp* stop buying from them. But, I guess some people back then weren’t ready for that conversation just yet.

Press Play

As unfortunate as it all may sound, there is light at the end of this tunnel. Since its launch last November 12, 2020, stocks for the PS5 are somewhat improving even though it still might be inconsistent going into 2022. We have a global pandemic to thank for that.

Retailers are getting creative when it comes to their strategies to prevent scalping. Selling a console through a bundle to throw off an automated bot that focuses on purchasing just the console alone, selling at a much higher price, and then refunding the customer after the transaction is made, only allowing people who sign up for a personalized newsletter to receive a pre-order form, they all do their own little way of helping out those who just want to buy normally. Heck, I even managed to get myself one a couple of months ago because of these said tactics.

No one likes a bully. Especially ones that affect our wallets. One of my favorite narratives that developed this year is finding out that scalpers are now losing money slowly, but steadily. It’s even gone as far as the bully getting bullied themselves.

The problem still exists, but at least more and more people are starting to realize that being patient is way better than paying two or even three times more. I look forward to the day when everything comes back to normal. People can meet face to face, I don’t have to go outside wearing a mask, and being able to play video games with a lot more people.

M2.0 Communications is a public relations and digital marketing agency helping brands creatively engage their target audience through data-driven narratives. We offer a range of services including PR advisory, media analytics, social media marketing, and influencer strategy and management.

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